2012 Report Released On Tobacco Related Deaths in Kenya

A report recently released in the 2012 Tobacco Atlas holds tobacco accountable for 3% of men’s deaths in Kenya. The comprehensive report also found that around 15 billion cigarettes are smoked each and every year by Kenyans alone. These numbers are staggering both in terms of deaths caused and cigarettes smoked, there is even talk by the health authorities that if these numbers continue to increase they will have a tobacco epidemic on their hands.

Compiling the reports is one thing, acting on the results to try and make a positive change is another. Quite rightly so, the Kenyan health authorities are calling for changes to be made to reduce these deaths. Some of the ideas that have been discussed include increasing taxes and the price of cigarettes to make them unaffordable to children and expensive for regular smokers.

There are a number of other methods including the introduction of electronic cigarettes to current smokers, these can be a cost effective way to not only offer a substitute but also help reduce smokers dependancey on nicotine. More info on e cigs can be found here.

The most important thing they can do however is to increase awareness and education to children, non-smokers and smokers alike. The main thing is to reduce the number of people trying cigarettes in the first place.

The Government deficit problem of African countries

The amount of aid that has been given to African countries so that they uplift themselves from poverty has not done much as they seem to be regressing. Most of these countries in Africa are always experiencing a shortfall in their overall budget which results in the borrowing of money to cover the deficit. There are many reasons why Africa seems not be progressing as expected and this is attributed to factors that do not seem to have solutions even after many of the countries have had independence for decades.

Some of the factors that contribute to government deficit in African countries are wars which are prevalent between countries or within a country’s own borders. These wars result in economic problems for the citizens as they are unable to be involved in any economic activity that will sustain their economy and eventually improve the lives of the people. Civil wars that have been going on for years have greatly reduced the progress of many countries in Africa as they result in the breakdown of infrastructure that would be used by the citizens in the country so that they can grow economically. Most of these countries then resort to borrowing money from international aid agencies and other countries to be able to cover the deficit.
With the poor credit loans offered to African countries to be able to meet their financial needs, there are conditions attached as a way to make sure that the money is used wisely and can be eventually repaid. These conditions are most often ignored due to poor leadership as well as corrupt leaders who use it for their own good. There is need to find better solutions to the government deficit by African countries so that there is real economic growth is seen from them.

Wine Industry Development

It’s interesting sometimes that our greatest regrets can lead to some incredible opportunities.  No matter if we’re talking about our own personal lives, or about issues within developing economies, I think that rings true to a large scale.

As far as Africa goes, Apartheid was one of the most horoundous acts which happened to the continent since the end of slavery.  One of the vestiges of Dutch settlement though is a significant and advanced wine industry within South Africa that exists no where else on the planet.  That came to mind because I saw a couple of 90 point wine clubs spring up from the region, which speaks to the type of high quality wine being produced.  Certainly the European roots and relationship have helped the wine industry both grow and prosper within South Africa.

The real question is, can other countries in the Aftrican Union use South Africa’s wine industry as an example of sorts to grow their own domestic wine production capabilities?

I think the quality of produce already being produced in Africa speaks for itself, so there shouldn’t be a question on land quality or even basic farming practices.  I think the real question is if many other countries have the combination of climate and resources to create a real wine industry.  Nigeria certainly has enough resources, but their climate may be too warm to grow world class grapes.  Other countries in West Africa don’t have stable enough governments to warrant $30M investments for only a few hundred acres of land.  Personally, I think we’ll see an increase in wine production in Kenya specifically.  Being a Christian country they’ll have less local resistance to making alcohol and they have enough available land, especially at altitude which could craft amazing wines to make the attempt worthwhile.

South Africa and Thailand

In March 1992 South Africa and Thailand agreed on consular relations. This is surprisingly late for countries that are on opposite sides of the Indian Ocean. Since consular relations were established between the two countries there has been a warm relationship. There have been several diplomatic delegations between the South Africa and Thailand. The South African ambassador has even met his HM King Rama IX.

In June 2009 there was a Thai Exhibition at Sandton Convention when hundreds of Thai and South African people from the business communities had a chance to meet face-to-face and discuss ways to promote trade between the two countries. Areas such as food, building and construction materials, plastics and rubber, food and beverages, textiles, clothing, gems,  furniture and décor, kitchenware and ceramics were seen as viable areas for trade for mutual benefit between South Africa and Thailand.

In 2011 plans were underway to build a Thai Trade Distribution Center (TTDC) in Johannesburg to facilitate the growing interest for Thai products in South Africa.

South Africa is commonly viewed as ‘the Gateway to Africa’ by Thailand. It is a country with good ports and a good route to progress farther inland throughout the Southern African area.

There is also potential for both countries to benefit from tourism. There are several carriers operating between Cape Town and Bangkok including Cathay Pacific, Emirates, South African Airways, Qatar Airways and Singapore Airways. Popular beaches such as Thong Nai Pan in Koh Phangan and safari tours in Kruger National Park could see future numbers boosted by the association between the countries.

The only concern is that Thai goods seem to be arriving in South Africa in greater amounts than South African goods are getting on the shelves in Thailand. Naturally, South African diamonds are doing well in Thailand but not so with crafts, ceramics, ITC and other areas. In 2008, Thailand and South Africa had a trade value of $2,297.52 million.  Thai exports totaled $1,587.98 million and imports $709.53 million. Thus, Thailand had a balance of trade surplus equivalent to $878.45 million. This needs to be addressed.

Joyce Banda

Joyce Banda recently became the first female Prime Minister of a Southern African country. All eyes in the region are on Malawi to see what Joyce Banda will be able to achieve as the first woman to assume the top job in the country.

Joyce Banda is a confirmed female activist. She is also committed to civil rights and her political ideas show a massive change in political leadership after the former autocratic president, the late Mutharika. She rose to power after being heavily involved in setting up and running several organizations to help the people of Malawi. These include the Joyce Banda Foundation for Better Education, the Young Women Leaders Network, the National Association of Business Women and the Hunger Project.

Joyce Banda has also been an outspoken advocate for women’s leadership and for the empowerment of women in a country that has been dominated by patriarchal relations and that has commonly turned a blind eye to violence against women. She was voted ‘Woman of the Year’ in Malawi for 1997 and 1998.

In the ruling Democratic People’s Party (DPP) she has held the posts of Minister of Gender, Child Welfare and Community Services and Minister of Foreign Affairs between 2004 and 2009. She then became the vice president of Malawi. As it became clear that she had intentions to run for the top job in the country there was a struggle in the party between the progressives and those who felt that Malawi wasn’t ready for a female President.

The result of this power struggle was that Mutharika nominated his brother as his successor and kicked Banda out of the party in 2010.

This was unconstitutional since Joyce Banda was an elected representative. Nevertheless, she opted to leave the DPP and start her own party called the People’s Party.

Although Mutharika was buoyed by early success in improving agricultural output things got progressively worse for the DPP. The economy took a sudden downturn. Mutharika giddy with power started trampling on people’s civil liberties and countries such as Britain refused to give the country economic aid.

When Mutharika died the country faced high unemployment, disastrously poor crops and massive debts. Forced to do something when President Mutharika died suddenly, the parliament made Joyce Banda the president on April 7, 2012.

Joyce Banda now faces an upward struggle to gain the support of the majority DPP parliament and to implement changes that will improve Malawi’s finances, improve crop yields and restore international confidence in the country. She also has to implement what will surely be unpopular austerity measures to improve Malawi’s credit rating.

If she can succeed in doing all these things and bring Malawi back onto the track of growing prosperity while at the same time increasing rights for women she will have scored a massive victory for all African women.

More Computers And Internet Connections Needed In Africa

It is 2012 and in the history of the world, there has never been a better time for someone who wants to take their destiny into their own hands. That includes the continent of Africa.

With the explosion of technology, especially the Internet, it is easier than ever for people to communicate with others and to do things that never before were possible. Have you noticed that more and more African bloggers are coming online and trying to learn how to make money from home? Take a look at this one who has created quite a stir in the blogging world with his many quality guest posts. And if you take a look at this blog you will see that it is really possible to make a lot online.

There are lots of ways to make money online and Africans need more opportunities as they live in one of the poorest parts of the world. The Internet can be nothing but good for them as it provides a way to enter into communication and even do business with other parts of the globe.

For instance, it used to be that writing a book and getting it published was something out of reach for most people. Only the best writers and the ones with contacts could write a manuscript and convince a publishing company to print it.

But now things have changed and anybody from any economic background and any walk of life can get their own book published and sold online. Indie books on Amazon number in the tens of thousands and will soon be in the millions and higher as regular people take advantage of this new opportunity have their words read and bought. It is a wonderful money making opportunity with almost zero financial risk for the budding writer.

On the Internet, anyone with a good idea can make money no matter where you live. If you have a talent or a skill, chances are that you can benefit in some way by developing a business or a presence online. And now that Internet access has become so cheap, it is available to more and more people. Artists can show their works and make sales online, musicians can upload their works and get exposure which can lead to opportunities, and anyone who wants to sell anything at all can open their “store” in the form of a website for a very small investment.

It is great to be living during this time when almost anyone can make a success of themselves with hard work and a little talent. For Africans though, they need to see the rapid ramping up of their technology infrastructure so that more of them can get online. Hopefully this is just the beginning and more and more people will be able to find a voice online and an outlet for their God given talents.